Things appear to getting more and more extreme in the world. I’m not just talking about climate change or increasing income inequality but about people. They seem to either become kinder or become less kind (to use a euphemism).
The other day I happily experienced the kinder person. I’d just been to the comune to ensure that my papers were in order, jumped on my scooter to arrive at the new filling station only to find that my documents including my Italian ID card, a considerable amount of Abu Dhabi currency (goodness knows why I had to bring it with me) and, worst of all, my all-singing, all-dancing electronic UK passport, just recently renewed, had vanished.
I did the stretch of road between the comune and the filling station four times at a snail’s pace realising much to my horror that there were many drains, some without even their grills on and mysterious kerb cavities in the pavement (sidewalk). I told some of my shopkeeper friends about the lost documents and they very kindly agreed to have a look-out for them. I also informed the Polizia municipale.
No sighting of my precious documents for a whole day gave me a feeling that I had ceased to be even a number.
I passed a gloomy evening at home scanning through web pages related to UK passports, ready to report the loss and horrified to learn, not only of the length of the wait for a new one, but also of the costs!
The worst agony was to convince myself that this was a symptom of senility. I have been to some of the dodgiest places in the world from Calcutta to Mexico City and was proud never to have been parted from my passport! How could this have happened in Bagni di Lucca of all places!
Next morning I decided I’d have to start again with my documents. At least they could be replaced; there are things in life which sadly are not able to be replaced. I first went to get new photographs taken at Pastrengo. There were six of them, making me look suitably miserable and haggard. I then crossed the road to have a reviving cappuccino at Paolo’s friendly bar in the same place of Fornoli.
At the second sip my cell phone rang. It was the local police. “Hello, are you Mr Pettitt?” the voice asked. “A lady had found your document wallet and brought in to us”.
“You’ve brought me luck”, I said to the girl who’d served me the cappuccino, and rushed to the station rather quickly as it was about to close for the day.
Everything was there in the wallet including those Abu Dhabi dirhams. I signed the form declaring that the goods had been returned to me intact and asked for the lady’s phone number.
I profusely thanked her. “It’s happened to me too so I knew how you were feeling. In fact, I came to your house but found you were out so I left them with the police,” she replied.
How kind some people can be! One thing led to another. The finder lived in a village some little distance away from Bagni. But her friend, also from the same village, worked in a shop in Bagni. I went to Azalea land in Borgo a Mozzano and bought a really flamboyant azalea, left it with a thank-you note with the friend and visited an acquaintance for a spot of vino.
There I heard another passport story which did not have such a happy ending. I’ve also heard yet another forlorn lost passport tale. For a moment it seemed that losing or having one’s passport swiped was a relatively common occurrence and not due to advancing age. I felt happier for that though, clearly not for the victims I knew!
I received equally good news the next day. The person from Essex will not be coming this year. Those who know that story will understand.
For the rest, I will not quote an Essex joke realising that someone from Essex might just be reading this!